Varieties of Regret: A Debate and Partial Resolution

Thomas Gilovich*, Victoria Husted Medvec, Daniel Kahneman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Different interpretations of an apparent temporal pattern to the experience of regret were addressed through joint research. T. Gilovich and V. H. Medvec (1995a) argued that people regret actions more in the short term and inactions more in the long run because the sting of regrettable action diminishes relatively quickly, whereas the pain of regrettable inaction lingers longer. D. Kahneman (1995) disagreed, arguing that people's long-term regrets of inaction are largely wistful and therefore not terribly troublesome. Three studies that examined the emotional profile of action and inaction regrets established considerable common ground. Action regrets were found to elicit primarily "hot" emotions (e.g., anger), and inaction regrets were found to elicit both feelings of wistfulness (e.g., nostalgia) and despair (e.g., misery). Thus, some inaction regrets are indeed wistful (as Kahneman argued), whereas others are troublesome (as Gilovich and Medvec maintained). Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-605
Number of pages4
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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